Stopping full-time RVing like a “hot potato”?


By Chuck Woodbury
A reader wrote to me with this comment. I thought I would share it with you in case you were interested. He wrote:

Dear Chuck,
I am amazed at your change of attitude about full-time RVing. I followed your past full-time adventures with interest. I was quite surprised when you dropped full-timing like a hot potato. Not to be negative toward you or your RVing practices, just an observation of a person who was actually considering it. Thank you for your contributions to RVing.

I responded:

Dear whoever you are (you did not leave your name),
I have spent at least eight cumulative years on the road (probably more) in my 35 total years of being an RVer, so I know pretty well what it’s like to travel with an RV. The recent two years of full-timing was a great experience, but like many other RVers it proved less satisfying than I had envisioned. Part-time RVing works better for me, especially since I am still running a business. The business was starting to suffer in my absence, and if that were to continue it would hurt a lot of people who depend on it. And I missed associating in person with my staff.

But I did not drop full-timing like a “hot potato.” Gail and I began our full-time adventure with the idea that we would test the waters. And we had a great time. I have no doubt that we will spend many months at a time in our RV in the future, just not year-round without a sticks-and-bricks home to return to.

I don’t know how long you have been an RVer, but I have been one more than half of my life. And I can tell you that full-time RVing is a whole lot different today than it was even 10 years ago. It’s crowded out there and that frustrated me. I found it a lot more of a hassle to travel freely, going where I wanted to go on a whim, which is the way I like to travel. It’s not easy to do that anymore.

But, you know, I can’t explain why I stopped full-timing every time I write a story. So readers, perhaps like you, can’t really know my true motives for my actions. We each have our unique ways of living our lives and what works (or does not work) for me may not work for you or others.

I can’t count the number of people I know who love their full-time lifestyle. They make it work and it’s a dream life. But, for me, two years of living such a life was less satisfying than doing it part-time. So now I have a traditional home and my “mobile” home, and I can enjoy the best of both worlds.

If you plan to travel full-time with an RV, don’t let what I say stop you. Do it! It may end up being the greatest adventure of your life.

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1 year ago

We have been camping for over 30 years, and retired 5 years ago. We have spent 6 months of the year on the road, but return to our home to center ourselves; we did want to become a visitor in our own hometown!

I am also wagonmaster of our camping club and can confirm the issue with campgrounds getting more crowded and stricter policies, such as non-refundable deposits add-on fees.

The solution which has allowed us to continue to travel is volunteerism. We volunteer at national and state parks — sometimes for as little as a month — and use our days off to see the area. We also may choose to stay an extra week in some areas and are often able to get a paid site in the same park. We have also considered some of the non-profit RV volunteer sites, such as disaster relief organizations, Habitat for Humanity, et al.

Many parks are begging for help…the last park we left had no volunteers to fill our slots. The USFS park at which we worked this year, for instance, tells us that in their district alone the value of the volunteers’ service was equivalent to 15 FTEs. And the flooding and fires across the nation have created a lot of volunteer opportunities to help in rebuilding.

While we love RVing, one of the things we missed was community involvement. Volunteerism give us the chance to fill that void while meeting others and exploring new places. Win-win for us.

Dan Varcoe
1 year ago

Its wonderful that we the opportunity to choose what we call home in this great country. Even though some areas seem to be getting crowded and restrictions are increasing, there are great places to live in an RV if you seek them out. We have found Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Idaho to be awesome.

Now in our later 60’s, we have been full time RV’rs for 7 of the past 11 years, staying in our own home town a portion of that time. We have rented out our home and have no desire to go back. By simplifying and downsizing we have more time to live life, enjoy friends and family and less time maintaining a home and mowing lawns, etc. You are right… its not for everybody and the timing needs to be right. It would be challenging to “Full time”, while raising kids or possibly in our later years when steps and stairs became too challenging to navigate, but for now, we will continue to love the “Good Life” in our 5th wheel.

Thanks for the conversation.
Dan V.

John Koenig
1 year ago

I was an “extended time” RVer from 2010 (when I bought my Casita Spirit Deluxe Travel Trailer) until May, 2018 (when I sold my “stick & brick”). I was 66 years old when I started RVing full time and, I realized that as the years passed, there would come a time when it would be prudent to “hang up the keys”. I’m currently in good health and, plan to remain a full time RVer for the foreseeable future (in the 2015 Dynamax DX3-37RB Freightliner based, Class 7 HDT Super-C Class RV which I bought new in 2014). I can always buy another house / apartment / living space BUT, while I’m healthy enough to drive my big rig, I’m GOING for it! There’s just SO much to see, do and explore across America and, I can’t think of a better way to do that, then in an RV. I have a “Plan B” (and even a Plan C”) in place. To date, all my travels have been as a solo. If I can find a woman who has similar goals to mine and, we found we could “play nice” with each other, that would be great. In my opinion however, solo travel is preferable to just sitting home wishing I was out in the world doing nice things. I understand that living full time in an RV isn’t for everyone but, it IS working out nicely for me. 🙂

Denny wagaman
1 year ago

Full timing might seem like a good idea but most people that I know have a home to go to and maybe live in their RV for 2-6 months. We have lived up to 6 months in our MH. We prefer to travel but only from Nov thru April. We bought an RV lot thought we would like staying in it for the winter ended up NOT enjoying it. I live to drive it and we like staying in some places for a couple of weeks then moving on. After 10 yrs of our winter traveling we decide to stay home this year enjoy our winter in SE WA state. We will miss the Florida Keys, Hilton Head l, Natches Miss,
A few days in New Orleans, Naples Fl, but after a few stays abd going to other places too I asked myself now what? This winter we will not RV. We will fly to our NC kids for TG then come home put up a tree, decorate our house enjoy our friends and yes enjoy whatever weather we have. Puttering in the RV garage as well at home and go from there. We love our home, our friends and wouldn’t ever think about full timing.
I have met a couple of full timers that weren’t happy. Said they thought it would be great sold their home because couldn’t afford traveling and keeping house.

Many love Full timing. Try part timing first. If you can’t afford to do both keep your home would be my suggestion.

Another women said we didn’t know how lucky we were to have our little home. Now we can’t afford to buy it back if it ever comes on the market.

1 year ago

We have had one type or another of an rv since the 70’s when our 3 daughters so enjoyed going camping in our little 17′ Golden Falcon trailer (no toilet). Once the girls got into their teens, their enjoyment faltered to the point that the trailer sat for most of the year. Consequently we sold it and watched them grow into adulthood. Once the nest was empty, we bought a little Pop-up and did our own camping and enjoyed it so much we upgraded to a nice 25′ Coachmen travel trailer. We were getting close to retirement and spoke often of full timing, but we both had hobbies (woodshop and 64 Fairlane for me and quilting for her) that were just not conductive to living solely in an rv, much less a 25′ trailer. Sold that and bought a 35′ DP and did a whole lot of traveling throughout the west including canada and alaska and spent months on the road. However, that cinched it for us on our full timing plans as we so missed our hobbies. So, we purchased a very nice lot on an rv resort located on the Oregon coast (summer temps in the 60’s) and traded in the 35′ Dp for a 44′ DP and spend May through October there. The rest of the year we are back home with our hobbies and life long friends. We are half-timers, I guess and found that it really works for us.

1 year ago

Our RVing history is similar to several below. Camped during vacations while working, then extended and full-time from 2004-2017 while retired. Enjoyed spontaneous boon-docking, as well as minimal advanced reservations at military and public campgrounds/RV parks — until the economy picked up about 2013-4. Had to start making more and more reservations, farther and farther in advance. Became nearly impossible to get into nice state and national park campgrounds. Campgrounds too crowded and expensive, even our favorite boon-docking places too crowded.

The thrill was gone so we bought another house in 2017 and put our 5th-wheel in storage for almost two years. Went out to desert SW for two months last winter and had so many hassles, we sold the rig when we got back home. Don’t know if we’ll ever buy another one again. If we do, it’ll be used and smaller for shorter trips.

I don’t mean to discourage folks from either extended or full-time RVing if they haven’t done it before. I think it’s more of a problem for those of us who remember the spontaneity we used to have, and less-crowded campgrounds and BLM/national forest sites. We have many great memories from our adventures.

Captn John
1 year ago

It is too crowded out there. Even CGs on military installations have become a problem getting into and that is about to get worse. I’m 71, just bought a 2019 Montana and 2019 F350 dually. I’m going to fight it another few years, as long as I can.
I expect many that bought in the past 3 – 5 years will soon find the buying fad is not for them, too many problems on many fronts from repairs to CGs. Many are still looking for that serene site with the stream and no other units in site. The % willing to boondock drops every year. As costs rise even more will get discouraged. I think in the next few years we are going to see many thousands for sale and even more thousands being repossessed.

1 year ago
Reply to  Captn John

I hear you, Captn John, about the crowds. On the other hand, I am looking for the right person to stay on our rural property in N. California. We could use some help taking care of the property in exchange for site. Full hookup. Located on the river, surrounded by forests and 6 Wilderness Areas, mild 4-season climate. Better than boondocking!

1 year ago

Hi Chuck, your assessment of the hassle of being a fulltime today is spot on. We were fulltimers for almost 5 years until my wife needed heart surgery in 2015. We needed a house for her to recover in. We loved our 5 year adventure and still spend 5-6 months per year in our motorhome. As you know the Pacific Northwest can be a bit wet and gray 5 months of the year so Arizona with our RV friends is very appealing. Thanks for your good work, hope to see you down the road sometime.

Ron Hough
1 year ago

Sold the house and tried full-timing a few years ago. It was fun but we hated the storage fees for all the stuff we couldn’t part with and the lack of connection with our home community, not to mention the desire to relax in our own yard, do some gardening, putter in the garage and participate in local organizations and activities. We still travel in the RV but enjoy a balance that works well for us.

1 year ago

Not to worry,Chuck.We gave up on full timing because of overcrowded,and overpriced with no relief in sight,RV parks across the country.Add to that recipe worn out highways with bomb crater like potholes and beat out bridges and it’s a lot of wear and tear,and money to fix,anyone’s RV.After getting burned by an unscrupulous RV dealer in Pasco,Washington…something about a dog RV company..I will never buy another new RV again.The RV industry just doesn’t care about the consumer,they only care about shareholder profits.So they can stuff their new RV’s where the sun doesn’t shine.Nothing wrong with having and using a well kept older RV that is paid for and you can fix yourself,instead of dealing with ripoff warranties and greedy dealers.Seems this entire nation has become part of the problem anymore,instead of part of the solution.

Bob Godfrey
1 year ago

Well Chuck everyone has a different view obviously. As for us, we have been full timing 10 years so far and if it were up to my wife we would never stop but oddly it is me that wants a garage/workshop to “putter” around in and that is the one thing I have missed the most over the years. Besides the difficulty of being spontaneous I have also found it difficult to simply wash/wax my motor home since so many RV parks ban that activity now. However, I am actually worried that if we bought a place to return to that I might fall into so much routine that we would not travel as much again……gee, what a tough life we have? All I have to do is look at the 24000 or so pictures we have taken to remember how great the adventure has been and even I’m not sure I want it to end entirely. Fortunately, our health is very good and we can still do RVing and anything else we like.

Bob p
1 year ago

I worked for General Motors for 30 years and the last 15 I was planning on retiring and selling out for a full timing life right down to buying a truck and 5th wheel. Finally the big day came, I retired and my wife informed me she was not going to spend the rest of her life living in a camper. Long story shortened we couldn’t meet our expenses of home ownership and RV lifestyle on 1/3 the income, plus my wife’s health began its downward spiral, so I went back to work doing various jobs. My wife lost her battle with lung cancer, yes she smoked herself to death, since then I found a wonderful lady and now we spend 6 months in FL and 6 months in south central TN. We are happy right now but we talk about selling the motorhome and buying a winter home in FL.

8 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

Bob, When you are looking, look at Lower Alabama. Much lower tax situation here. Property taxes are about 1/7 the Florida level.

1 year ago

Great Response Chuck.

Our RV experience has been more that 18 years now. We full timed for almost 2 years while my Career with the FAA was winding down!

Now we are back to a sticks and bricks home with our 5th Wheel Parked in our RV shed next to the house.

And as you say, it is crowded out there. For instance, we had to make reservations for an RV Park in Mobile, AL for the 2020 Mardi Gras parades (just happens to be the best place to go for Mardi Gras). Now, while it will be in February and pretty chilly (even in Alabama) it was necessary to get a reservation that far in advance. And I expect the Park to be PACKED!

Not like it used to be, when you could call up on a WHIM, pack up and go!

Full Timing might be fine for some, but I still love my own property to come home too and stretch out.

Randy Walker
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff

Mardi Gras started in Mobile (my hometown). Most people think New Orleans. Have fun!

Birdie (Nancy Hillstromb)
1 year ago

I am firm believer that when it is time for you to come off the road you will know it. And Chuck you are correct that it is very crowded out there in the campgrounds. There are a lot of ‘entitled’ people RVing now. It used to be only once in a while you met ‘one of those’.

I have said for the last couple of years that I was thinking about coming off the road. Suddenly, in April a very unique housing situation presented itself, my family connections changed and I made the decision to grab that unique house. I will be moving into my ‘new to me house’ shortly and will sell my Class A, buy a much smaller B+ and will travel on a part-time basis for a while….I think! I haven’t lived in a house for the last 10 years. Just getting adjusted to the idea is challenging in some ways.

Good for you Chuck and Gail. I am so glad you gave it a chance and now you know it isn’t the life you want. Best of luck in the next next chapter of your lives.